Community

Region reinforces commitment to diversity

As York Region marks the fifth anniversary of its Inclusion Charter, it says recent incidences of hate crimes reinforce its importance.

“York Region is one of Canada’s fastest-growing and diverse regions with residents from over 230 ethnic origins speaking 120 languages,” York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson says. “Our diversity is our strength and we remain committed to working alongside our various partners for strong, caring and safe communities.”

Some communities experienced discrimination and inequalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Region reports. The York Police (YRP) Services Board also reports an increase in hate crimes last year. Its Hate Crime Prevention Unit saw a “notable increase” in hate crime occurrences in schools since it paused its Police School Programming in March 2021. In 2021, YRP reported 20 hate crimes – a number that more than tripled to 64 in 2022. Twenty-three per cent of the total reported hate crimes last year were school related.

The Inclusion Charter for York Region was developed by the Municipal Diversity and Inclusion Group (MDIG). The community collaboration brings together municipalities, police services, hospitals, school boards, conservation authorities and agencies with a shared commitment to welcoming and inclusive communities.

Guided by the MDIG, the collaboration is implementing initiatives – including the Inclusive Language Guide and the #EndHateYR Campaign – in a bid to increase a sense of belonging and decrease incidences of hate crimes. Internally, the region has established an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility division to strengthen its corporate commitment to the charter. Among other things, the division is committed to addressing anti-Black racism, promoting equity and belonging in the workplace, and ensuring accessibility of programs and services.

To date, 36 organizations have endorsed the Inclusion Charter. “These organizations share the vision of building a welcoming and inclusive York Region where diversity is celebrated and where everyone can develop to their full potential, participate freely in society and live with respect, dignity and freedom from discrimination,” reports Gino Rosati, chair of the region’s Community and Health Services.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research renewed the region’s collective agreement, which focuses on advancing social inclusion and sustainable development and fostering support of collaborative actions to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For more information, visit york.ca/inclusiveYR.

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